No amount of good parenting takes away all the owies from your child’s life. Whether by accident, or part of growing up or even self-inflicted, they will have pain in life. Teaching your child to sort through the pain and growing from it can be a monumental task at times. The common sense ones we have no trouble with like, ‘I told you the stove was hot’ or “see, what did I tell you about running on concrete?” These daily accidents, although sometimes self-inflicted, result in pain that brings many lessons in life. The pain of touching the hot stove after you told them not to is an obvious lesson and quickly learned because of the quick consequences.
But, what about the ‘stuff’ we push back and do not deal with until it is too late. As adults we do this in our life, waiting, procrastinating, deciding it will not matter. What you have to remember is that you are passing on this pattern to your child. They are always watching. How you deal with situations in your life is a daily lesson to them. I was thinking about this while working in my yard this weekend. The scripture Romans 1:19-20 came to mind:
“19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
This is a great way to teach your child a Biblical truth. Your child is watching and observing you with situations in your life every day. What are they learing? Do you wait until it causes excruciating pain to deal with the issue?
Consider spring yard work, or storm clean up to illustrate my point. This past winter we had months of bitter cold instead of a couple of weeks. The unusual hard winter killed most of my yard, and what it did not kill, it severely crippled. This past weekend I finally got around to the last area. I had put it off because from the street it looked fine. There was plenty of green and flowers covering the winter damage. My procrastination became evident when I started pruning back the area that had been left to its own wild growing. Underneath were long, leggy stalks with no support that would have soon withered and not passed along nutrients to the beautiful outer growth and blooms. Near the ground was rotting debris from the storm that had not been dealt with. Eventually, the plants would have withered and died and I would need to replace them completely if I had waited much longer. Amazing how all around us in nature are lessons and truths from God. We have to deal with circumstances as they arise so that we teach our children to do so as well. Otherwise, we end up with root rot and wild unhealthy growth.
Of course there is the pain of growing up. Sometimes through no one’s fault, life happens and it hurts. The death of a pet, or worse a love one; financial hardship that takes away their piano lessons or football camp, these pains all hurt. A friend moves away, a teacher over looks them on awards day, these hurt. There are so many hurts as they grow that need to be handled. They will ask why, just like we ask God why when we lose a job, a love one or get sick. Life hurts. The Bible tells us that the trials and tribulations are testing:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
I Peter 1:6-7
Trials build character, patience and faith. That is hard to teach a child in concept if they are young. However, the way you yourself react to similar pain is how they will learn first. Are you patient? Does the situation make you mad and you explode? Mad is an emotion (my girls always hated this next phrase), “No one can make you mad. You have to choose to be mad.” It is true, you choose how you respond. How are you teaching your child to react to the pain in their life?
Sometimes though, our pain is self-inflicted. We have been away from Him in our walk for so long that the ‘pruning’ finally has to happen for us to survive and it is severe. Only you know if your season of pruning is simply growth in the Lord, a testimony for those watching you or if it is because you have gone your own wild way. What’s hurting you and why? Your kids are watching.